Applying Building Codes - What Drives the Design Process

9m 43s

In this ARE 5.0 NCARB-approved Project Planning and Design Exam Prep course you will learn about the topics covered in the ARE 5.0 PPD exam division. A complete and comprehensive curriculum, this course will touch on each of the NCARB objectives for the ARE 5.0 Project Planning and Design Exam.

Instructor Mike Newman will discuss issues related to the generation or evaluation of design alternatives that synthesize environmental, cultural, behavioral, technical and economic issues.

When you are done with this course, you will have a thorough understanding of the content covered in the ARE 5.0 Project Planning and Design Exam including design concepts, sustainability/environmental design, universal design, and other forms of governing codes and regulations. 

One of the things that's useful to start mapping out and understand as you're moving through a design project, is the impact of working with the Codes and what kinds of issues those Code issues are gonna bring to the various different aspects of the design process. And as you're moving through a project, the impact will be different, but also which parts of the Code will affect different parts of that design thinking. What do I mean by that? If we start imagining, let's use as some examples a couple different Code-related issues.

Zoning issues, how about fire ratings and egress-type issues, maybe ADA issues. So we have a couple different example Code issues, and now we have a whole series of these different contexts in which to understand the design process. We start thinking about thermal and moisture protection. Well, what we're really talking about there is siding and the windows and the roofing materials and all of those kinds of issues, and that will be impacted pretty dramatically by the initial zoning reviews.

Now, at this stage of a project, where we're talking about that kind of schematic design and design development thinking, really the place that's gonna be dramatically impacted by that is gonna be the fire ratings spot. If you start thinking about the exterior wall systems, we're gonna be making sure that those fit in with the building code requirements for what the fire ratings are for structural walls or for exterior walls.

We've talked a little bit about the idea of fire jumping from one building across a property line to another. So the sense of what those exterior systems are becomes a pretty dramatic impact on how we're thinking about the fire ratings and that process.

Equally, that's tied into the overall aesthetic look of a building, both on the interior, but especially on the exterior. We have a four-hour wall system that's gonna have a particular kind of look, and it's gonna impact the choices that we have available to us. If we don't have a requirement for any fire ratings, well then we have a totally different pool of possibilities that we could be imagining.

One of the things that is sort of the smart way to think about these things is you can start to map out where the interesting and problem points are gonna be in any one project. Let's just stick with fire ratings for a moment. Clearly, how that relates to the structure is gonna be a massive question. Right off the bat, once you've figured out the use, you've gone into the construction type, well the construction type is essentially the structure, like it's their structural choice, and so we're right at the very beginning of that process and we're making sure that what we are able to build is exactly what we said we wanted to build, is matching to our goals that we said we wanted, and so relating that to the fire ratings discussions in the Code would be a big issue.

Clearly, cost and budgeting, that's gonna be impacted pretty dramatically by our system of fire rating.

We're not gonna be choosing fire rating systems that are very expensive if we're doing a very low-budget process with a low-budget client in a low-budget setting, but if we're doing a very high-budget project or a very big and massive project that requires a lot of expertise and specificity in its categorization, so one section of the building is gonna be cordoned off from another with a big four-hour building separation.

As soon as we start getting into those kinds of discussions, you need some serious abilities there to make that work. You're gonna spend a lot of money on those walls and on those doors, so that process is gonna be very much tied to those fire ratings and the cost of the project is gonna be tied in may ways to the fire ratings and how they interact with the structural questions. So, that's gonna be tied right in.

Acoustic separations, they're each different wall type, each different floor assembly, one of the things you're looking at is how fast can the fire go through, or the heat, or the smoke, how can that get through that assembly. But we're equally, at the same time, interested in how much sound can penetrate through. If we have two offices next to each other, you wanna be able to talk in one office and not be hearing them in the other. So we have to think about how those things fit together, and it may actually be useful to think of them, both fire ratings and acoustics, at the same time so that you're getting a lot of bang for the buck.

You may be willing to spend more money on a fire rating extra if it gets me something useful from an acoustic standpoint. Again, sort of related as you move through that one. Material sourcing, obviously that could be impacted. Adaptive reuse is sort of a special case. That's kind of an interesting one because with adaptive reuse we have certain elements that are already there and that we have to work around.

So trying to figure out how the fire ratings are gonna work for that is a big trick because you have to have new work and old work work together. So, can it even be done? Do you have to replace so much of it that it's not worth doing the adaptive reuse? If you're talking about making the fire ratings work, that could actually be the driving force about whether that design is going to actually move forward or not.

So, I think you can start to see how each of these issues get played out through these different sets of questions. We're talking about zoning, it has impact on a number of these. We're talking about fire ratings, it has impact. Talking about egress, we're trying to figure out which of these things is actually driving the project. Sometimes it's gonna be the Code-related issue, sometimes it's gonna be these other issues, and it's gonna be that joining together of those two things that's gonna drive the design of a project forward.

Let's think about ADA for just a second. You can imagine that the way the structure works could be important about ADA. Are we sitting up high? Are we sitting at grade level? What's the relationship with, is it multiple floors? Do I, therefore, need an elevator? All of those kinds of decisions are decisions about structure and materiality and sort of overall fitting into a context, but they are also directly related to questions of accessibility and ability to have a clean, clear path for everybody to be able to get through.

We think about that special case of the adaptive reuse. Well, that's another special situation with the ADA, because now we're dealing with something that's existing, and often it's existing in a way that's not how we would do things now. And so, maybe you have a lot of steps between different spaces.

Well, how do you deal with that? So, the adaptive reuse, we have to really think about can you fit in an elevator into that situation, or a lift or a ramp into that already-enclosed context. What are the tolerance levels in terms of the constructability? What are the ways that you can have new elements fitting up against old elements? So, I have these new pieces and old pieces, maybe a new ramp or a new elevator, fitting into an older building, but then they want to move in different ways or there's moisture considerations because of that relationship, of the penetrating the old and the new.

So, we start having issues that we have to be planning ahead for. So, all this to say, when we start thinking about these Code issues, we're not just thinking about them in these very simple, okay, now we're talking about fire ratings or now we're talking about ADA.

As you're going through each of these different Code issues, you're relating them to all of these design driver issues, if you will, and you're finding what's the resonance between them. And on this particular exam, you can totally imagine that that's the real question, is that space in between the Code issues and the design driver issues and that what you're really trying to figure out is if they give you some piece of information and something like, okay, we're talking about ADA, what is the impact that that decision that you would make, down the road on these other concepts.

Or here's a concept that we're thinking about, how does that impact how we're thinking about it from a Code standpoint back in this other sensibility, right? So we're looking to try to connect these different issues, and that's where we're at at this moment in time, which is this design time.

We're between the goal-making and the details, we're putting the design together during this exam, and that's what we're really thinking about, is how those things connect together.

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From the course:
ARE 5.0 Project Planning & Design Exam Prep

Duration: 31h

Author: Mike Newman